Derek Chauvin trial: Pills found in vehicles contained meth, fentanyl
MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - The state called witnesses and experts to the stand Wednesday to testify in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of George Floyd.
Chauvin is charged with third-degree murder, second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death last May. The trial is being broadcast live, gavel to gavel, on FOX 9 and streaming live at fox9.com/live.
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Here are the witnesses who testified on Wednesday:
- Sgt. Jody Stiger, the prosecution's use of force expert who works for the Los Angeles Police Department. He testified about the police tactics surrounding Floyd's deadly arrest.
- Special Agent James Reyerson of Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. He investigates use of force cases and was the lead investigator on the case.
- McKenzie Anderson, a forensic scientist for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. She was the crime scene lead and processed the evidence found in the vehicles involved in the case.
- Breahna Giles, a forensic scientist for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. She tested the pills found in the vehicles.
- Susan Neith, forensic chemist at NMS Labs in Pennsylvania. She tested the makeup of the pills found in the vehicles.
Prosecution's use of force expert resumes testimony
The state’s use of force expert, Sgt. Jody Stiger of the Los Angeles Police Department, returned to the stand Wednesday morning after Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill ended court early during his testimony Tuesday afternoon.
Stiger said he analyzed the video and determined Floyd was restrained for nine minutes and 29 seconds, during which Chauvin's knee restraint did not change.
Stiger also pointed out a moment where Chauvin used a pain compliance technique on Floyd where he squeezed Floyd's handcuffed hand in an effort to get him to comply to commands.
Stiger testifed that force should not have been used on Floyd while he was in the prone position, handcuffed and not resisting.
"My opinion is no force should have been used once he was in that position," Stiger said.
Stiger said in his analysis he did not see the crowd of bystanders as a threat because they were "merely filming" and the shouting was mostly of "their concern for Mr. Floyd." He said he didn't see anyone throw anything or attack the officers.
Nelson asks if Floyd said "I ate too many drugs" during arrest
During cross examination, defense attorney Eric Nelson played a short clip from Kueng's body worn camera during the arrest and asked Stiger if he can hear Floyd say, "I ate too many drugs."
After playing the video a few times, Stiger said he can't make out what Floyd is saying.
The audio is difficult to decipher due to background noise.
When Nelson showed Reyerson the clip and asked him if he could hear Floyd's drug comment, Reyerson agreed he could hear it.
However, during redirect the prosecution played a longer version of the clip. After listening to more context, Reyerson said he thinks Floyd said, "I ain't do no drugs."
Discussion over Chauvin's knee placement
Nelson confirmed with Stiger that using a knee on the back of a subject's neck area, the trapezius, is standard police practice. However, Stiger said training indicates even if the person is resisting, the officer should eventually change the subject's position.
"In most cases however especially in last 20 years, once you handcuff them, you still want to put them in a side recovery position," said Stiger.
Nelson showed side-by-side video of bystander video with J. Alexander Kueng's body camera video. Stiger agreed from the view of Kueng's camera Chauvin's knee appeared to be at the base of Floyd's neck in between the shoulder blades.
During redirect, prosecuting attorney Steve Schleicher asked what causes the risk of positional asphyxia, where someone may become unable to breathe during restraint.
"Pressure on the body, additional pressure on the body than if there was no pressure at all," said Stiger.
Stiger agreed this could occur even if the placement of the knee shifted during the restraint.
Pills, Floyd's blood found in vehicles
McKenzie Anderson, a forensic scientist for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was the crime scene lead in the case.
During her testimony, she described how her team processed the evidence found in the two vehicles connected to the case -- the police squad vehicle and the Mercedes SUV that Floyd was in before he was arrested.
She said she and other investigators first processed the vehicles on May 27, taking photos of what was found.
They searched the Mercedes a second time in December after receiving a request from the attorney general's office. This time, they were told to specifically search for suboxone, pills, gum and money. Suboxone is a prescription given to those who are battling opioid addiction.
Two loose pills were found in the center console of the Mercedes Benz SUV that George Floyd was in before his arrest.
Anderson described photos, which showed they found an opened suboxone packet on the floor of the front driver's side and an unopened suboxone packet on the driver's seat and two loose pills in the center console.
The squad vehicle was also processed a second time in January. While a pill was photographed on the floor of the back seat the during the first search, it was not taken into evidence until the second search. In addition to the full pill, Anderson described finding what appeared to be portions of pills in the back seat.
Anderson said she completed DNA testing of the pill found in the squad car and found saliva on the pill matched Floyd's DNA.
Blood found in the back seat of the squad vehicle also matched Floyd's DNA , Anderson testified.
Pills found in vehicles contained meth, fentanyl
BCA forensic scientist Breahna Giles testified that she tested the pills found in the Mercedes. She said those tablets contained methamphetamine and fentanyl.
Giles said a pill and a partial pills found in the police squad car tested positive for methamphetamine.
During cross examination, Nelson pointed out the difference in the weight of the pills found in the Mercedes and the portion of pills found in the squad car. Giles agreed one of the pill remnants weighed around .39 grams less than the full pill found in the Mercedes.
Susan Neith, a forensic chemist, tested the concentrations of fentanyl and meth found in the pills recovered from the vehicles.
She said for the pills found in the Mercedes, both had a fentanyl concentration less than 1 percent. One tablet had 1.9 percent meth, while the other had 2 percent meth.
For the pill found in the squad car, the fentanyl concentration was less than 1 percent and meth was 2.9 percent.
Neith said based on her personal experience, the level of fentanyl was consistent with the amount of fentanyl street drugs, but the amount of meth was well below the purity she typically sees for street meth.
TIMELINE: George Floyd's death to Derek Chauvin's trial
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